Dog Fun

10 Most Amazing Things You Didn’t Know Dogs Can Do

Written by Richard Jeng

As it turns out, your dog is in many ways, like a furry superhero. Everything from their ability to predict earthquakes, to their extraordinary sense of smell and their ability to see radiation, dogs have “super powers” we can’t even comprehend.

And If you thought your dog’s standard repertoire of tricks and commands was impressive, just wait until you read this. In today’s article, we’re counting down the most incredible things that you didn’t know your dog could do.

And that all starts right now on The Smart Canine – the only website that explores the most interesting stories and facts behind dogs.

RECOMMENDED: 100 Most Interesting Dog Facts

1. Dogs can smell cancer.

You heard that right – dogs can actually smell cancer cells in humans! Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in the world. Detecting it in its early stages is crucial for finding the most effective treatments.

However, the most common methods of diagnosing lung cancer involve costly procedures, such as CT or PET scans. Both of which can also be unreliable.

So, the proposed solution was to train dogs to detect lung cancer.

In a recent study that ran for 8 weeks, three Beagles were trained to detect cancer cells from just blood samples. The result was amazing. 

It turned out that the Beagles were able to make a clear distinction between cancer and non-cancer blood samples with 96.7% accuracy! But the research into dogs as a cancer-detecting option didn’t stop here.

These dogs are currently being trained to sniff out all types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer. But what’s more impressive is that dogs can now detect these cancers by sniffing the breath of the patients. 

Early experiments show that dogs are able to sense the biochemical differences in the breath of both cancer and non-cancer patients! Research is still currently in progress, but the future looks bright for dogs in the medical industry.

2. Dogs can sense when a woman is pregnant.

When a woman becomes pregnant, all types of hormonal and physiological changes follow. In fact, hormones in the body can actually change the scent of the pregnant woman. 

According to scientists, it’s believed that dogs are actually aware of this change of scent by using their incredible sense of smell. And oftentimes, dogs can detect this even before the woman realizes she’s pregnant. 

However, we don’t know for sure when the exact moment a dog senses a pregnancy is. Also, it’s likely that your dog doesn’t understand what is actually the cause for this change of scent in their pregnant human. 

But we do know that they understand something is changing – both on a behavioral and physical level. It’s why you’ll hear so many stories of a dog becoming more loving, more protective, or behaving differently, during a human’s pregnancy. 

3. Dogs can smell their owners from 11 miles away.

Have you ever heard of a “lost” dog that reappeared back home just a few days later? Some dogs always find their way back home no matter how long they wander for.

Well, that’s because your dog can smell you from 20 kilometers or roughly 11 miles away! This is, of course, under the most perfect of conditions. 

For example, a humid region allows your dog’s nose to be more effective at trapping scent molecules. Also, dogs tend to have a heightened sense of smell in colder climates.

On the contrary, areas with thick vegetation, heavy rains, snow or dry climates can also make it more difficult for your dog to pick up on a scent.

It’s likely that they’ll need the perfect weather conditions and environmental factors, though it’s still incredibly impressive that they’re able to track that far away with it. 

4. Dogs can understand at least 200 words.

Dogs are more intelligent than you think. In fact, researchers believe that the intelligence of these animals is roughly the same as a two year old baby human!

The average dog can understand 200 spoken human words, while plenty of dogs can learn up to 350 words. But what about the smartest dog breed in the world?

Border Collies are universally recognized as the most intelligent in the canine kingdom, at least when it comes to obedience and working intelligence.

They’re the best at obedience training, and as a result, are highly capable of learning all sorts of verbal commands. But what’s even more impressive is that a Border Collie, named Chaser, learned the names of 1,022 physical objects! 

It’s the most ever demonstrated by any dog. As a result, Chaser’s vocabulary is roughly the same as a three year old human toddler!

5. Dogs can smell your feelings.

It doesn’t get more superhuman – or rather, super-canine than this. In the past, it’s been widely believed that dogs could only use visual or auditory cues to interpret what their humans are feeling.

However, according to a study by the University of Naples in Italy, dogs are capable of picking up on subtle changes in your scent, which can help them figure out how you’re feeling. 

In other words, your scent changes as you go from a feeling of happiness to a feeling of sadness. And given the dog’s acute sense of smell, they’ll know!

Not only can your dog sense human emotion, but they tend to also adopt the emotional state as their own. It’s why if you’re feeling sad, your dog may seem down too.

That said, it’s a good enough reason to be happy every time you see your dog.

6. Dogs can see UV light and radiation.

If their super sense of smell wasn’t enough, dogs also have super-vision. In a study by The Royal Society, scientists analyzed the eyeballs of several species of mammals.

What they found was that dogs had eye lenses that allow UV light through. In other words, dogs can, in fact, see Ultraviolet light. 

Have you ever wondered why some dogs stare at powerlines?

While powerlines may look like normal metal ropes to us, dogs see them as lines with bursting lights emitting from the strands. It can actually be quite terrifying for them.

Dogs can also see thermal radiation, that is, they’re able to sense radiation coming from warm bodies or weak thermal radiation.

In fact, brain scans showed a substantial increase in brain activity when dogs were shown physical objects that were warmer than their surroundings. It’s why dogs are excellent for search and rescue teams. 

7. Dogs can sense the earth’s magnetic field.

Yes, dogs are sensitive to our planet’s magnetic field and it even influences certain behaviors in these animals. For example, most dogs tend to align themselves along the north and south axis when they take care of their business. 

In a study with thousands of urinations and defecations, observations were made off-leash on an open-field, so they weren’t influenced by objects like fences or fire hydrants. 

Their incredible magnetic compass also helps them calculate and take shortcuts when going through unfamiliar terrain.

And if you think about it, hunting dogs may actually be showing this superpower on the job. 

These dogs are able to pinpoint wild game in dense forest regions, and then navigate back to their owners over a long distance, often taking novel or unfamiliar routes. Well, this innate magnetic compass may explain how they do this. 

8. Dogs can see in the dark.

If you weren’t already impressed, dogs also have night vision. It’s no surprise that dogs have a very different eye structure than us humans.

Not only do they have a larger pupil, but their retina contains light-sensitive cells, called rods, that help them see much better in low light or the dark.

However the secret to night vision in dogs is their tapetum lucidum, which actually acts as a mirror and reflects light back out, thus giving them another opportunity to register the light.

It’s why dogs tend to have bright cyborg eyes in pictures using flash.

Fun fact. When humans forbid dogs to eat delicious foods, dogs are 4 times more likely to steal the food in the dark, when they think humans can’t spot them.

Who said dogs don’t ever use their superpowers for good?

9. Dogs can detect earthquakes and lightning storms before they happen.

The very first records of a dog’s ability to detect earthquakes can be traced back to ancient Greece. It’s no coincidence that dogs and other wild animals seek shelter just days before an earthquake hits the region.

In fact, dogs have become an integral part of modern earthquake detection systems in some first-world countries, such as Japan and China. 

But how do dogs actually predict them? Well…there isn’t a clear explanation yet.

However, one possible explanation is because of the dog’s amazing sense of hearing. Scientists believe that the dog’s ultra-sensitive ears allow them to hear the crackling, scraping and the collapse of large rocks beneath us. 

They may not know exactly what these sounds mean, but it could make them fearful enough to behave with much uncertainty. 

In the home, these behaviors can be unnecessary barking, howling, neediness or anxiety. And in the wild, they may simply run for shelter and hide.

As for predicting storms, your dog relies on both its sense of smell and hearing. Their sense of smell is capable of picking up the scent of rain several miles before they arrive. Plus, their hearing is likely to pick up the sound of thunder before we hear them ourselves.

Another amazing feat is their ability to sense a drop in atmospheric pressure, which is usually a tell-tale sign of a storm. If that wasn’t enough, dogs are sensitive to the static electricity that may be caused by a lightning storm. 

10. Dogs can run over 100 miles per day.

Of course, not all dogs can run 100 miles per day, but the Siberian Huskies can. Some Huskies have even covered 1,100 miles in less than 9 days! And the craziest thing is that scientists still don’t know exactly how.

Most mammals store glycogen in their muscles, which can then be extracted to produce energy. It’s how we produce energies, along with nearly every other mammal out there.

However, Huskies have shown that they’re able to turn on a metabolic switch that starts extracting energy from the fat directly in their bloodstream. This is the part where scientists still have not found how it’s possible.

In other words, their muscles won’t decline as quickly, giving them an unreal advantage when it comes to long distance running! 

But don’t push your limit with your dogs. It’s believed that this metabolic switch is only developed through generations of breeding sled-pulling dogs. 


So, what do you think is the most incredible thing that dogs can do? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think! 

Posts you may like:

About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

Leave a Comment